It’s true that walking is one of the most convenient and effective exercises around. Yet it can be tough to start or stick to a walking routine because you might think you need to walk for an hour (or more) to get a good workout. Not so. Here are four walking workouts from personal trainers around the country that’ll help you burn calories and build your cardiovascular fitness—all in 10 minutes or less. (Burn calories and build muscle—all while boosting your mood—with our 21-Day Walk a Little, Lose a Lot Challenge!)
You’ll notice both “high knees” and “walking mountain climbers” interspersed throughout this outdoor walking workout, from Bitsy Earl, a personal trainer at Crunch Fitness in New York City. These moves help burn calories because they recruit more muscles and joints than does walking alone.
Minute 1: Walk briskly at a rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of six out of 10.
For the next 30 seconds: Walk while bringing your knees as high to your chest as you can at a RPE of eight out of 10.
For the next 30 seconds: Go back to brisk walking at a RPE of six out of 10.
For the next 30 seconds: Do “walking mountain climbers” at a RPE of eight out of 10. To do these, bring your right elbow across your body to your raised right knee, then repeat on the left side and continue to repeat, alternating sides.
Repeat this two-minute walking interval workout five times, for a total of 10 minutes.
The one-minute hill intervals in this workout increase leg strength by activating your glutes and hamstrings. Plus, the arm exercises you’ll do when you decrease the incline during your recovery minutes of the walk activate your core muscles as you coordinate moving your arms differently while walking, explains Meghan Kennihan, a personal trainer and RRCA/USAT run coach in Chicago, who designed this workout.
Minute 1: Walk briskly at 3 or 3.5 MPH
Minute 2: Pick up the pace to 3.5 or 4 MPH, which you’ll maintain for the next seven minutes
Minute 3: Increase the incline to 5%
Minute 4: Back down to a 1% incline and add overhead arm raises
Minute 5: Increase the incline to 6%
Minute 6: Recover: Back down to a 1% incline and add arm punches
Minute 7: Increase the incline to 7%
Minute 8: Back down to a 1% incline and do overhead arm raises again
Minute 9: Increase the incline to 8%
Minute 10: Back down to a 1% incline and slow your speed to 3 MPH or less to cool down.
Walking on an upward angle, such as climbing stairs, adds just enough resistance to an otherwise low-intensity exercise to burn extra calories. It also challenges the posterior chain muscles, such as the hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Try this routine from Mike Clancy, a personal trainer in New York City. (You’ll want to use a stairway with multiple flights.)
Minute 1: Walk up a staircase at comfortable pace.
Minute 2: Walk back down.
Minute 3: Pick up your pace so you increase the number of flights you walk up.
Minute 4: Walk back down, again at a slightly faster pace than minute two.
Minute 5: Walk back up the staircase without holding onto the handrail, either staying at that quicker pace or slowing your speed slightly.
Minute 6: Walk back down.
Minute 7: Walk back up the staircase without holding onto the handrail, at a pace that feels safe.
Minute 8: Walk back down.
Minute 9: Walk up the staircase at comfortable pace, this time holding onto the handrail.
Minute 10: Walk back down slowly to cool down.
Note: To boost your calorie burn even more, perform the entire 10-minute stair climb workout without using the handrail.
When was the last time you walked backwards? If you’re like most people, you likely can’t remember—but it’s actually an effective way to boost your calorie burn on a walk. That’s because when you walk backwards, your feet step wider, prompting your lateral glutes to work harder than if you were walking forwards (and burn more calories as a result), explains Galina Denzel, a personal trainer in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA, and author of Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well, who designed this workout.
Minute 1: Walk up and then back down a hill to warm up.
Minute 2: Turn your back to the hill and walk up, backwards, as fast as you can.
Mintues 3-4: Walk briskly down the hill and then back to your starting place at the base of the hill.
Minute 5: Turn your back to the hill and walk up, backwards, as fast as you can again.
Minutes 6-7: Walk briskly down the hill and then back to your starting place at the base of the hill.
Minute 8: Turn your back to the hill and walk up, backwards, as fast as you can again.
Minutes 9-10: Recover by walking down the hill and then on a flat surface until you’ve cooled down.